Professor Stella Ghervas
Course "Cultural and Political Foundations of European Unity"
University of Chicago (USA)
Department of Political Science & Department of History
Winter - Spring 2011
“Europe” is a word of many and ambiguous meanings, depending on how we look at it from either a geographical, political or cultural perspective. The fact that a large part of that continent coalesced after the end of the Cold War into a political union of 27 countries, commonly referred to as “Enlarged Europe”, makes it necessary to overcome previous political divisions (East-West) and to embrace this continent as a whole, both in space (including the Balkans and Russia) and in time (going as far as the Congress of Vienna).
With this goal in mind, we will explore the issue “what is Europe and what does it mean to be European?” We will review successive plans of European unification, as well as prominent individuals and groups who played a part in their development. The possibility of a European unification was first envisioned as a dream of Enlightenment philosophers, then an alliance of monarchs in the post-Napoleonic era and a century later as a project of “United States of Europe” within the League of Nations. It succumbed to the wave of nationalisms that led to World War II, only to be revived through the German-French reconciliation and the foundation of European communities. Through this course, students will familiarize themselves with concepts and an interdisciplinary approach that will provide a better understanding of the cultural and political foundations of contemporary Europe.